ACC's motion to stay Florida State's lawsuit denied

A Florida judge denied the ACC's motion to stay Florida State's lawsuit against the conference Tuesday, as dueling lawsuits between the two sides continue to move forward.

The decision comes one week after a judge in North Carolina ruled the ACC's lawsuit against Florida State can proceed. Florida State filed an appeal on that ruling Tuesday in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Leon County Judge John C. Cooper heard arguments Tuesday in the case filed by the Florida State board of trustees in Tallahassee, Florida. He did not agree with the ACC's assertion that the case in Florida should be temporarily halted while the case in North Carolina moves forward.

The hearing in the Leon County courthouse is scheduled to continue April 22 and expected to include arguments on the ACC's motion to dismiss the case in Florida.

"While we respect the court's decision, we strongly disagree with its determination surrounding our requested stay in Florida, especially following the North Carolina court's decision," the ACC said in a statement. "We are examining our options as it relates to next steps."

The ACC filed its lawsuit against Florida State on Dec. 20 to enforce the validity of the grant of rights, a contract that gives the conference ownership of television media rights for all league schools through 2036. Florida State filed its lawsuit Dec. 21, challenging the legality of the grant of rights and the league's $130 million withdrawal fee.

"FSU is pleased with Judge Cooper's ruling today denying the ACC's motion to postpone our lawsuit over the mishandling of media rights," the school said in a statement Tuesday night. "We agree with his conclusions that the ACC's North Carolina action was an anticipatory filing disfavored by courts, and that the sovereignty of the State of Florida supports the resolution of these matters in Florida."

Florida law typically gives preference to the party that files the first lawsuit, which in this case is the ACC. But in court Tuesday, multiple media reports suggested that Cooper questioned whether the ACC followed the proper voting protocols to get approval to file the lawsuit. He also questioned whether the ACC brought its case as a way to rush to get it heard first in North Carolina.

If Cooper denies the ACC's motion to dismiss in Florida, and Florida State's appeal in North Carolina is denied, both lawsuits will continue to move forward on parallel tracks in two separate states.

Adding to the complications, Clemson filed its own lawsuit against the ACC in Pickens County, South Carolina, last month over the grant of rights and withdrawal fee. The ACC filed its own countersuit against Clemson, also in Charlotte, a day later.